Posted in Money on September 17th, 2016
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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Prepping or preparation takes time before a disaster strikes. I am not talking about Howard’s (John Goodman) type of bunker prepping in “10 Cloverfield Lane.” I mean preparation in a more banal, practical way.
When early settlers were moving west, claiming land, and pushing out Native Americans, the settlers had to rely on their own skills. In order to survive in the wild land, they had to be skilled in farming, hunting, building houses, raising animals, and other “bespoke” handiwork.
United States have transitioned away from agrarian society to industrial in the last century. Within the last two decades we have drastically transitioned to an information society. Where majority of products are made in factories, especially in China, the average person here lacks skill to make anything on their own. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a handy person. We may be able to build a table or paint a room on the weekend, but we will not be able to sustain ourselves when thrust into wilderness. It is a bit concerning that even cooking is outsourced. Many in the city don’t cook on a regular basis. Now we need apps to help us eat: Researching Yelp to find restaurants to go, ordering through Grubhub and Postmates, or having groceries delivered through Amazon Fresh.
Even growing herbs is reduced to buying a gadget. This reminds me the ridiculousness of Chia Pet.
There is still hope, however. There has been a resurgence of bespoke craftsmen. Small online shops can be profitable, “Made in the U.S.A.” These products include candles, soap, “artisanal knots” (Portlandia S2E2), alternative books, and furniture. Interest has been increasing in farm to table dining, craft cocktails, chicken and goat raising, tiny houses, and minimalism.
I don’t mean we have to learn how to make everything. I think being self-sufficient will appease the stress in time of dire circumstances.
Here is my ideal setup. 100-150 acre land with some animals for breeding. The law of compounding applies here. Every year, with care, one can grow herd of chickens, cows, goats, sheep, or any other domesticated animals fit for the land. As they multiply, your return on investment increases. Of course there are expenses related to animal care, and it takes significant amount of time and resources. In the Masaai culture, wealth is determined by the number of cows and goats. The Masaai children are normally are tasked in taking care of the herds.
In case things get hairy, the land should be a bit removed from a city center which would provide general safety. Also, this can become a rally point to meet your family.
A garden is needed where staples can be grown twice a year. Also, an herb garden will be helpful. Along with a small house, solar and wind power generation, water pump and nearby river access. Some portion of the land would have trees. This sounds like resource management setup in a Civilization game. Also, if near to any city, internet access. A/C, gas stove, several grills, and wood stove for heat. I would add onto the land to make myself more comfortable.
Finally, I would have variety of tools. It can be started with the basics like a hammer and a shovel. Tools also include a library of books, handbooks, and instruction manuals.
There is a saying about safety in numbers. It would be ideal to have a group of friends and family with similar goals. We don’t have to live like Amish societies. With our technical skills, social advancement, and sharing economy, it should make it easier to connect, prepare for dire circumstances, and enrichment of everyday life.
Interestingly, there was a television show which experimented on group dynamics in a crisis situation. One takeaway is that food and water sources were difficult to find in large catastrophes. Naked and afraid also shows the importance of having these sources in the wild. After 21 days, majority of the survivalists lost weight from 20 to 30 lbs due to lack of a reliable food source.
Robotic farming machines are being built. As farms get larger to produce more for the general population, efficiency may be key for commercial farming. If the middle class took an active role in being fractionally self-sufficient, how much better for the society in general. More organic farming, less to worry about genetically modified foods, more heirloom variety of foods, etc. Also, many of these places can offer fresh produce to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. We may not know when a disaster strikes, but we can spend time in preparation.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
Besides technology stocks, consider agriculture stocks like SGG:
One of the many ETNs that are being traded. This stock is having a favorable year, with an uptrend from February and a recent breakout above $48.
Disclaimer: This is not a stock recommendation and I do not own any shares. Consult your financial advisor for any investment advice.